Project by project, PAm helps address the bee health questions of today while helping beekeepers prepare for the future. Across the U.S. and Canada, recently funded projects are beginning on topics ranging from Varroa and viral diseases to drought-tolerant bee forage.
FUNDED BY COSTCO:
Benefits for bee health and diversity from drought-tolerant plantings (“bee pasture”) for drought-stricken areas in the West.
Dr. Diana Cox Foster, USDA Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research Lab, in Logan, Utah, and Dr. Kevin Jensen, USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Lab, Logan Utah.
Drought, especially in the west, is likely one driver of an overall decline in honey production. This project is working with drought-tolerant plantings in range land to assess their value as bee-pasture. Resilient plants are needed to support not just honey bees, but all pollinators, in regions predicted to become hotter and drier over time.
Measurements and modelling of regenerative almond impacts on water balance & frost risks.
Dr. Kosana Suvočarev, University of California, Davis.
Most bee colonies spend time in the California almond orchards for pollination at a time of year when not much else is blooming. Increasingly growers are using blooming cover crops not only to provide forage for bees, but for a multitude of other benefits like building and improving soil and pest management. Questions about water use and frost damage are top of grower’s minds, although some evidence suggests these are not concerns. This study will use precise tools to measure how cover crops impact overall water use and risk of frost damage over multiple years. More definitive answers to these questions could encourage more growers to adopt cover crops, which would increase the overall plant diversity, soil and ecosystem benefits, and resource management through carbon sequestration. (stay tuned for more on that!)
FUNDED BY COSTCO CANADA:
Determining Varroa destructor economic thresholds and the influence of stressors on mite injury levels, for the effective implementation of IPM strategies in honey bee colonies.
Dr Nuria Morfin, British Columbia Honey Producers Association.
Awarded: $34,344.57 (CAD)
The ‘economic threshold’ for a pest is the point at which the beekeeper should intervene with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to avoid negative outcomes, such as colony loss. Good beekeepers pay close attention to this number for Varroa, but it likely varies with other factors. This study will consider the severity of varroa-vectored viruses and the diverse geography of British Columbia to develop relevant and actionable thresholds for beekeepers across that region.
Do viral infections cause queen failure?
Dr. Alison McAfee, University of British Columbia.
Awarded: $53,215 (CAD)
Replacing queens is a significant and increasingly frequent cost for beekeepers who are either dealing with failing queens, or re-queening to stay ahead of other colony health issues. By investigating the role of viruses on queen quality, Dr. McAfee’s work could lead to improved and potentially cost-saving best practices for queen producers and beekeepers.
FUNDED BY NATIONAL HONEY BOARD:
Supplemental Funding: Testing pesticide residues in honey bee colonies across California landscapes to aid development of predictive pesticide risk models.
Dr. Neal Williams, University of California, Davis.
To supplement a larger grant, this funding adds pyrethroid pesticide analysis of 190 samples taken from colonies operating within a 3 county range of California agriculture. The data will bolster a model designed to predict pesticide exposure risk within that system and help beekeepers avoid the negative impacts of pesticides on colony health.
Is newer better? Assessing traditional and new methods of Varroa detection.
Dr. Nadia Tsvetkov, University of British Columbia.
Accurate mite counts are important for timely and cost-effective management, but they can be labor intensive and inconvenient. This project will compare and evaluate the tried-and-true methods like the alcohol wash to two new apps designed to detect mites with a beekeeper’s smart phone. This information could lead to the validation of more mite-testing methods.
FUNDED BY PROJECT APIS M.:
Mites alight! Sunflower pollen for honey bee resistance to Varroa destructor.
Dr. Jay Evans, USDA Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, MD.
We know that good nutrition supports bee health, but can a single source of pollen also help bees fight Varroa? Preliminary evidence suggests sunflower pollen suppresses Varroa. This project will look closer to see if the effect is cause or correlation, and possibly identify a mechanism. This analysis of sunflower phytochemical effects could inform supplement design components to help suppress Varroa, at a time when more tools are urgently needed.
Congratulations researchers! PAm accepts scientific research proposals at any time and they are reviewed three times per year. For more information about submitting a proposal, you can go here. Currently our request for proposals on behalf of the National Honey Board is open until October 2nd. Sign up for our enews to stay up to date on this and other future funding opportunities!
By: Grace Kunkel, Communications Manager, Project Apis m.